These Heart Cupcakes are made with moist white cake batter and red velvet cake hearts baked in the middle. They and are topped with rich, creamy buttercream frosting! They are easy to make and perfect for baking with kids. They are the best treat for gifting friends and family or for bringing to your Valentine’s Day celebration!
These cupcakes with hearts in the middle are so perfect for Valentine’s Day! They feature moist white cake, surprise red velvet cake hearts and delicious homemade buttercream frosting.
My favorite part of these cupcakes is watching friends and family discover the heart shapes in the middles when they cut them in half!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- These cupcakes are super fun to make with kids. They also make the perfect valentine treat for adults too!
- Anyone can make these easy cupcakes. I’ve included simple recipes for the cupcake batter and frosting. Save time by using your favorite store bought cake mix for the hearts!
- The only special tool you need is a heart shaped cookie cutter! You can frost them the old fashioned way with a butter knife or use an ice cream scoop!
- Not only are they cute, they’re also delicious. These hearts cupcakes are soft and tender and topped with the most luscious buttercream frosting!
Here are some useful notes on some of the ingredients for these love heart cupcakes.
- One 9 by 13 inch red velvet cake: We need two cake batters of contrasting colors to make these cupcakes. The recipe for the cupcakes is included in the recipe card, but for the red hearts, you can use your favorite red velvet cake recipe OR a cake mix. Using a boxed mix is a great idea so that you don’t have to make two batters from scratch.
- Unsalted butter: We are using unsalted room temperature for the cupcakes and the buttercream frosting.
- Granulated sugar: Use granulated sugar for the cupcake batter.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds flavor.
- Eggs: You’ll need 2 large eggs. Take them out of the fridge 2 hours before baking.
- Flour: Use all purpose flour.
- Baking powder: Baking powder is what makes these cupcakes rise.
- Salt: Salt brings out the flavor of these cupcakes.
- Milk: Use whole, room temperature milk.
- Powdered sugar: I highly recommend sifting your powdered sugar. If you don’t sift it, your buttercream frosting could have lumps in it.
SUBSTITUTIONS & VARIATIONS
- Sprinkles: Swap in red and pink sprinkles in place of the red velvet crumbs!
- Food coloring: The white color of the frosting makes the red hearts pop! That said, you can add food coloring to your frosting if you like. I recommend gel food coloring since a little goes a long way and it doesn’t change the consistency of the frosting.
- Piping frosting: Instead of scooping ice cream on, pipe it on. I love using a Wilton 1M piping tip for piping tall swirls.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Below are step by step directions on how to make cupcakes with hearts inside. Please see recipe card below for complete instructions and ingredients.
Step 1: Prepare the cupcake liners. Line your cupcake tin with liners. Use a marker to make a little mark at the front of each cupcake liner. This will help you know which direction the hearts are facing.
Step 2: Make the red velvet cake. Make a 9 by 13 inch cake using a from scratch recipe or boxed cake mix. Cook the cake for the minimum baking time. You definitely don’t want to overcook it because cut hearts out of this batter and bake them in the cupcakes. Allow cake to cool.
Step 3: Cut out the hearts. Use a 1-inch thick and around 2-3 inch wide heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut 12 hearts out of the red velvet cake. Set the hearts aside while preparing the cupcake batter.
Step 4: Make the cupcake batter. Make the white cupcake batter. Fill each 12 cupcake liners about 1/3 full. Place a heart inside each cupcake making. Spoon extra extra batter around the hearts. (The tops of the hearts will be peaking out before and after they bake. That’s fine because they’ll get covered with frosting!)
Step 5: Bake. Bake the cupcakes for 10-12 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.
Step 6: Make the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter until it’s creamy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar followed by the milk, vanilla and salt. Turn the speed up to medium and beat until smooth and fluffy.
Step 7: Decorate the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes are cooled, use an ice cream scoop and top each cupcake with a “scoop” of frosting. Top with red velvet cake crumbs.
EXPERT BAKING TIPS
Tip #1: Use cake mix for the cupcakes. I have included my cupcake mix below. To save time, you can make these valentine heart cupcakes using a mix for both the hearts and cupcakes.
Tip #2: Use a 2 or 3 inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. I recommend a standard heart shaped cookie cutter. This would be about 3 inches wide. A smaller 2 inch cookie cutter would work as well. I recommend using a cookie cutter that is about 1 inch thick. If you use one that’s thinner than one inch, you’re not as likely to see the hearts on both halves of the cupcake when you cut into it.
Tip #3: Draw a dot on the cupcake liners. To ensure that you cut into the hearts in the right direction, use a pen or a marker to place a tiny line at the fronts of your cupcake liners.
Tip #4: Keep the hearts a surprise! You can tell people what’s inside beforehand, but I find it fun to tell them where to cut and to see their reactions to the surprise heart inside!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes! Store the frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
You don’t need a special heart shaped mold or cupcake pan to make these. You can make heart inside cupcakes with just a basic cupcake pan and a heart-shaped cookie cutter!
Make a 9 by 13 inch cake. Cut heart shapes out with a cookie cutter. Make a cupcake batter. Add batter to the bottom of cupcake liners. Place hearts in the pan and fill with remainder of the cupcake batter around the hearts.
STORAGE AND FREEZING
Room temperature: Store frosted heart cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezer: Store the unfrosted heart inside cupcakes in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 30 days. Bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
MORE RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE
FOR THE HEARTS
- One 9 by 13 inch red velvet cake use a from scratch recipe or a cake mix
FOR THE CUPCAKES
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk room temperature
FOR THE VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- a pinch of salt
RED VELVET HEARTS
- Make a 9 by 13 inch* red velvet cake (use a from scratch recipe or boxed cake mix). Allow cake to cool completely.
- Once cooled, use a 1-inch thick heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts (I recommend a cookie cutter that is 1-inch thick and that is around 2 to 3 inches wide)*. Set the hearts aside while preparing the cupcake batter.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with liners. Use a marker to make a small dot at the fronts of your cupcakes so that you will know which direction the hearts are facing once baked and frosted.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk to combine the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand held mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla followed by the eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
- Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the milk, scraping down the sides as you go.
- Fill the cupcake tins at least 1/3 of the way with the cupcake batter. Place the hearts in the middle, making sure the bottoms are touching the bottom of the tin. Gently spoon additional batter around the top part of each heart. (The hearts will be still be sticking out on top before and after baking).
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. Begin checking the cupcakes at 10 minutes.
- Remove the cupcakes from the tin and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
FOR THE VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
- Beat the butter until it's creamy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar followed by the milk, vanilla and salt. Turn the speed up to medium and beat until smooth and fluffy.
DECORATING THE CUPCAKES
- Use an ice cream scoop to top each cupcake with a scoop of frosting. Break up some crumbs from the leftover heart batter and sprinkle them on top of the frosting. You might have to lightly press some into the sides if they don't naturally stick.